Partnerships make for progress in the area of mental health

If there's one thing I've learned from my more than two decades of treating and addressing mental health issues, it's this: there is no greater power than the power of a strong partnership. This partnership I speak of takes shape in a multitude of ways. Partnering with our patients to be allies in health; partnering with a multidisciplinary team of providers to strengthen treatment plans; and partnering with the community to augment the health care landscape within in our area.

It is with this notion that I am so proud of one of Methodist Healthcare Ministries' latest partnerships. For those who do not know, Methodist Healthcare Ministries offers behavioral health services at our clinic locations in the San Antonio area (Wesley Health & Wellness Center; Bishop Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. Clinic; and School Based Health Centers), and through community and church sites throughout our 74-counties in South Texas as part of our Community Counseling program.

And, although, I know from our clients we are addressing a need, I also recognize there are demands we are not equipped to address. That's where that powerful word, "partnership," comes into play.

To fill a void our behavioral health services team recognized, Methodist Healthcare Ministries recently partnered with Family Service Association – a non-profit agency in San Antonio dedicated to helping children, seniors, and families in need – to house a full-time Financial and Vocational Counselor at the Wesley Health & Wellness Center and Bishop Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. Clinic to serve as an in-house point of referral for Methodist Healthcare Ministries' patients and clients.

The partnership model takes the patient's/client's social determinants of health into consideration as part of the treatment available through Methodist Healthcare Ministries' two San Antonio-based clinics. As poverty is one of the strongest risk factors for poor health, this partnership is designed to help low-income individuals improve their financial health and provide them with skills and education to prevent them from being in subsequent financial emergencies.

A counselor will work on an individual's budget and teach them how to pay off debt. The partnership will also allow for one-stop access to job training programs.

As this partnership continues, I hope to see a positive effect on our emergency assistance program. If we can find ways to empower people to take control of their health – both physical and financial – perhaps we will ease the burden or stress financial crisis creates for our patients and clients.

Ultimately, by pairing financial and vocational counseling with other social services, we are better able to overcome barriers that may affect one's mental and physical health like minimal educational attainment, insufficient job skills, ineffective support systems; lack of individual employability; and intergenerational cycles of poverty.